Scientists Develop Portable, Rapid Urine Test for Amphetamines

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Korean scientists have developed a portable, quick urine test for amphetamines, HealthDay reports. “Breathalyzers are effective at catching drunk drivers on the spot, thereby preventing accidents,” researcher Ilha Hwang said. “We hope that our sensor may have a similar effect with people who abuse amphetamines.” The test uses a wireless sensor and smartphone app, and can detect amphetamines in a drop of urine within seconds, the researchers report in the journal Chem. The device costs about $50 to produce. “Conventional drug detection generally use techniques that require long operation time, sophisticated experimental procedures, and expensive equipment with well-trained professional operators,” co-senior author Joon Hak Oh said in a news release. “Moreover, they are not usually portable. Our method is a new type of drug sensor that can solve all these problems at once.” Further testing in clinical settings is needed before the device can be marketed, Oh said.
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FDA Requires Makers of Fast-Acting Opioids to Pay for Doctor Training

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will require makers of fast-acting opioids to fund voluntary training for healthcare professionals who prescribe the drugs, according to Reuters . The training will include education on safe prescribing practices and non-opioid alternatives. The FDA informed 74 manufacturers of immediate-release opioids that they will have to fund training for doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Companies that make extended-release and long-acting formulations of opioids already must pay for training of healthcare professionals. The FDA is also considering some type of mandatory education on opioids, the article notes. According to the FDA, approximately 160 million prescriptions a year – about 90 percent of all opioid pain medications prescribed in the United States – are for fast-acting formulations.
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Cigna Will Stop Covering OxyContin in Effort to Reduce Inappropriate Use

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Health insurer Cigna announced this week it will stop covering the prescription opioid OxyContin in an effort to reduce inappropriate use of the drug. Instead it will cover an equivalent drug less vulnerable to being misused. The alternate drug is Xtampza ER, made by Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. Xtampza ER cannot be made more fast-acting through cutting or crushing, Cigna said. The change will go into effect January 1, 2018, Reuters reports. Patients who have started using OxyContin for hospice care or cancer treatments will continue to have the medication covered next year. “Our focus is on helping customers get the most value from their medications – this means obtaining effective pain relief while also guarding against opioid misuse. We continually evaluate the clinical effectiveness, affordability and safety of all our covered medications as these characteristics can change over time, and we make adjustments that we believe will provide better overall...
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Hospital Treatment Rates for Heroin Surge While Rates for Prescription Opioids Drop

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Hospital treatment rates for heroin rose more than 31 percent between 2008 and 2014, while treatment rates for prescription opioids have declined, according to a new study. Hospital discharge rates for prescription opioid poisonings decreased each year by about 5 percent between 2010 and 2014, the study found. Lead researcher Tina Hernandez-Boussard of Stanford University said the results provide evidence that people addicted to prescription opioids are turning to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get, HealthDay reports. “I’m cautiously optimistic that prescribing clinicians are positively reacting to the opioid crisis and therefore prescription opioids are contributing less to the overall drug epidemic,” Dr. Hernandez –Boussard said in a news release. The findings are published in Health Affairs .
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Survey Results Shed Light on Substance Use Initiation Trends

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Illicit drug use initiation was highest for marijuana in 2016, followed by prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers and stimulants, according to national data. A recent article in Healio.com – Psychiatric Annals referenced these findings. “Whether someone engages in substance use is associated with several risk factors that are typically correlated with an increased likelihood of substance use (eg, perception of low risk of harm from using a substance, easy availability of substances) and protective factors that are typically associated with a decreased likelihood of substance use (eg, exposure to prevention messages),” Rachel N. Lipari, PhD, of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and colleagues wrote. To determine risk, protective factors and estimates for substance use initiation, researchers analyzed data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for individuals aged 12 years and older. More than four out of five individuals perceived great risk for harm...
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Study Highlights Unmet Treatment Needs Among Adults With Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

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Despite current treatment guidelines, fewer than 10 percent of adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders receive treatment for both disorders, and more than 50 percent do not receive treatment for either disorder. The findings highlight a large gap between the prevalence of co-occurring disorders and treatment rates among U.S. adults and the need to identify effective approaches to increasing treatment for those with these conditions. An analysis of data from U.S. adults with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder indicates that only 9.1 percent of those adults received both types of care over the past year, and 52.5 percent received neither mental health care nor substance use treatment. The study, based on data collected from the 2008-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that 3.3 percent of the adult U.S. population, or some 7.7 million individuals, suffers from both a mental...
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NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator Helps Find Quality Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

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Described as a “game-changer” by individuals in the alcohol treatment community! An important new online resource is now available to help people recognize and find high quality treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects more than 15 million adults in the United States. The NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator helps individuals and their loved ones negotiate the often-complicated process of choosing treatment for alcohol misuse by telling them what they need to know, and what they need to do, to recognize and choose quality care. The landmark Navigator website is comprehensive, yet easy-to-use -- guiding users through a step-by-step process to find highly-qualified treatment professionals. It helps create informed consumers by describing AUD and the various treatment options available, explaining the importance of “evidence-based” practices, providing tips on how to recognize five signs of quality care, and recommending specific steps to find quality treatment, including 10 questions to ask potential...
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Do We Have an Amphetamine Problem on College Campuses?

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College is a stressful time for students. Balancing the rigors of studying and coursework with the social and financial demands of college life can be particularly challenging. Some students try to deal with these challenges by taking amphetamines or stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, thinking it will improve their focus and academic performance or allow them to stay awake and alert late into the night to study, work or party. While Adderall has proven benefits for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), taking amphetamines for nonmedical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. What are amphetamines? Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that have been used in many forms over the years as a way to reduce hunger and fatigue or improve mental focus. Amphetamines are also an addictive substance and can have severe side effects for individuals who misuse them or take them for non-medical purposes....
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Study: Just One E-Cigarette with Nicotine Can Cause Heart Damage in Nonsmokers

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Puffing just one e-cigarette with nicotine can cause damage to the heart of nonsmokers, a new study suggests. The study included 33 healthy nonsmokers. On different days, participants used an e-cigarette with nicotine, an e-cigarette without nicotine or an empty device. Researchers measured adrenaline levels in the heart. They found participants had a pattern of abnormal heart rate variability, indicating increased adrenaline levels, after they used the e-cigarette with nicotine. They determined the increased levels were due to the inhaled nicotine and not the non-nicotine components of the e-cigarette aerosol, Newsweek reports. The findings appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association .
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Drug Industry and Government Announce Efforts to Combat Opioid Crisis

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Drug company and government officials announced new efforts designed to fight opioid addiction during a meeting of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking to build partnerships to find non-addictive alternatives to opioids for treating pain, according to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Stephen Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told the commission it will support limiting the supply of opioids to seven days, instead of the traditional 30-day supply for short-term pain relief and minor treatments. The senior director of U.S. WorldMed told the commission the company is awaiting feedback from the Food and Drug Administration on their new drug Lofexidine. If approved, the drug would be the first and only non-narcotic product used for treating opioid withdrawal, CBS News reports.
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